A storm would be coming--the likes of which Alaska had not seen for almost forty years. Storm warnings went out and people on the coast and the islands in the sound evacuated inland to higher ground.
A few didn't--not because they didn't want to but because they had a duty to remain, Mitchell Hawkins one of them--he refused to leave Hawke's Light. When the storm hit decades before, his father remained and he would do the same.
They'd been watching the leaves fall for a few weeks but as the winds increased, so did the amount hitting the ground. Hawkins knew from the instruments in his small weather station--as well as gut instinct and experience--plus his computers that the approaching storm would hit them hard, meaning business. Of course, Mother Nature always did--look at the mid-Atlantic having earthquakes followed by hurricanes and a snowstorm in October. She's not a happy camper.
After recording the latest readings, he called the store in town and ordered what he needed before the rush. Fortunately, he did not have to worry about plywood to board windows. When he'd had the huge windows put in at the lighthouse so he could take advantage of the gorgeous views, he'd gone hi-tech for window protection. Like something out of Diamonds Are Forever or other James Bond movies, a heavy shield slid into place at the press of a button making everything much easier.
An hour later, his order had been delivered.
"Anything on the storm?" Pierre, the store owner, asked as they unloaded his truck.
"Looks bad. The figures are off the wall. I figure we're going to get hit hard--dangerously high tides are predicted. Everything we don't want to see."
"Nice to have advance notice of things."
"Which is why I ordered today. I figure you'll be getting a lot of orders for wood and staples from those who haven't left."
"How long do you figure we'll be under siege, if you will?"
"A couple of days, at least. I've already been contacted by several agencies about the light. This thing's got people worried."
They finished unloading the truck, Pierre helping Hawkins put things away.
"I guess I'll see you once it's over."
"More than likely," Hawkins said as they shook hands. "Like my dad and his before him, I'll weather it and make sure the light's working the way it should."
"We need more old-school lightkeepers like you. Too much automation is not a good thing."
"I hear ya, my friend. Be safe."
Pierre left, Hawkins watching as the truck disappeared along the gravel highway leading away from the lighthouse. He looked at the sound--the water peaceful, the weather not giving up any secrets of what would come.
Deciding it would be a good idea to test the system, he went to the main control room of the lighthouse and sat in front of his computer. When everything checked out, he went online and looked over the latest forecasts then his email.
No sooner had he logged on then a familiar name popped up with an instant message.
Sexyfed: It's about time...
Lightkeeper: Sorry, weather's got me busy.
Sexyfed: I shouldn't be mad. We're busy here, too. I actually have the day to myself.
They'd been going on like this for months and yet he had no clue where in the world she might be--the beauty of the Internet. He'd been able to enjoy a relatively unique relationship with her which at the moment, fit perfectly into his life. At this time of year, he couldn't put the time he felt necessary into another part of his life because he felt it wouldn't be fair to everyone involved.
Lightkeeper: Storm's coming in--lots of work.
Sexyfed: And I so wished I could wrap my mind around yours and have some fun...
Lightkeeper: Talk to me, I need a break.
Lightkeeper: You first?
Sexyfed: No, I want you to do it.
Lightkeeper: Then sit back and relax.
Jaxx--Jacqueline Beckett--worked for the United States Government in a little-known department in the Bureau of Land Management charged with overseeing development of lands where massive alterations had to be done in order to have a step up on nature yet work with her as well. Everyone knew the impossibility of the task but a few stubborn businessmen tried anyway thinking they knew everything.
The job she worked on now involved a developer who wanted to build a luxurious residential community on a tract of land just off the Alaskan coast. While still in American waters, he couldn't go through with his plans unless he worked with her department meaning an unhappy businessman and equally unhappy residents who opposed the project.
They'd been working on this for several months and remained at an impasse. As it stood now, the tract of land he wanted to develop actually sat on an islet in the sound. At present, a roadway connected it to the mainland but when storms hit, the road usually went underwater cutting it off from civilization until the waters receded. As soon as word came about an impending storm, measures had to be taken so the people could literally weather it--one being raising the drawbridge for the duration cutting them off completely unless they traveled back and forth by boat. Saint had proposed a bridge which would greatly benefit the people who spent some of their lives isolated from the rest of the world but there had been opposition from the residents about this and the protests merited investigation.
"Beckett..." she corrected him for what seemed the millionth time.
"I don't see why there is such a problem. The span would be advantageous to everyone involved."
"While you're looking at convenience, I must take into consideration the natural problems as well as the concerns of the residents. Just because the developer thinks something is perfect doesn't always mean it's a two-lane highway."
"I've dealt with stubborn people before..."
"You haven't dealt with me," she reminded him. "One of the reasons why my boss likes me is that I take my time and look at every possible angle before I make a decision."
"Don't even begin to go that route or I will shut this project down right now."
Jacqueline Beckett remembered this conversation often as she'd had it with various builders over the course of her employment. Most of the men she dealt with worked with her but every now and then, she ran into Mister Hard Ass. Having the day to herself gave her time to regroup and see life away from people like Harland Saint--an annoying man who turned charm on and off like water.
Now she settled back knowing she'd get some relaxation once she hooked up with someone on the net.
They'd met months before in a chat room devoted to nature. Obviously very proactive when it came to protecting the natural heritage of the United States, they hit it off immediately. While she knew he lived in Alaska and owned a lighthouse, she cherished their friendship for something else. The guy had a way with words and gave her the sexual release she needed every now and then.
Today, she needed him.
Harland Saint definitely did not live up to his name. A corporate raider in the background, he projected the appearance of being a developer for residential communities around the world--mostly in the United States and Canada though he had worked on a project in Dubai which fell through when the country's ruler said one word--no.
He'd been working on his latest project in Alaska for the past year. Between his architect and the others he had to contend with, the process had ground to a screeching halt. Now he had to deal with Ms. Jacqueline Beckett--a hard-nosed bitch who refused to be pushed. I will get what I want...
Small islets dotted the sounds off the coast of Alaska. One in particular sat adjacent to the tiny village of Amber Pacific--its name coming from the spectacular sunsets that bathed the area. Hoping to use this as a selling point, Saint immediately aimed all his resources at getting his latest idea up and running. Things had gone well until he had to deal with the government and one employee who refused to be paid to look the other way. Why me?
He'd tried every angle with her--straightforward, wining and dining and even feeling her out on possibly taking money to look the other way. She hadn't responded to any of it in his favor--especially the hint at a bribe. That idea shut the process down until he found a way of getting her to work with him again. He learned to tread lightly with her when it came to anything not aboveboard which added time to the project and cost him money each day but it would be worth it in the end.
The man had grown up in the streets of New York looking at the concrete jungle that made up his world. Though he knew he couldn't afford college, he decided he'd make his money elsewhere and let everyone else do the work for him--where his talent at corporate raiding came into play. He learned early on that he had the gift of gab and how to make deals using other people's money. By the time he'd sign the papers on a deal, the owner of the company he'd just purchased ended up paying him to take the property instead of the other way around. Just because the trail of bodies is long...
Now after all his years of wheeling and dealing to his profit, he had to fight with an agent of the federal government--a woman, no less--and it pissed him off to no end. The few women he'd had to deal with over the years had gone quietly but not this one. No, Jacqueline Beckett had proved to be a good fighter and a worthy opponent. How the hell do I get her on my side when nothing works?
"Who said now I have someone worthy to kill?" he muttered as he went over the latest projected overruns of his present pet project. Well, if killing is the only way...but then again, the government will send others... Shit!